Chapter 12: Social reintegration following armed conflict in northern Uganda: how former child soldier young mothers use symbolic resources
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This chapter explores how former child soldier young mothers utilized symbolic resources to mediate their reintegration and that of their children and to integrate their sense of self before, during and after their abduction experiences. The participants were 11 formerly abducted young mothers aged 18–24 years. An autobiographical interview was used to explore coping during a time of war, moving from one place to another, becoming a mother and how each young mother experienced changes in her life. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis, which is an idiographic method that aims to provide detailed examinations of personal lived experience. While most accounts of child soldiers tend to dichotomize pre- and post-war experiences, this analysis seeks to explore developmental trajectories of continuity and the integration – rather than the dissociation – of experiences. Young women drew upon symbolic resources developed in civilian settings to adapt to conditions of extreme hardship within the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Similarly, upon release from the LRA, they continued to draw on these same symbolic resources in their post-war lives. This continuity in the use of symbolic tools is central to understanding how former abductees adapted to adversity and cultivated resilience.

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